Dan and I were both out of the house last week for work and had, max, a few hours to discuss our upcoming camping trip to Wildcat Mountain State Park. Dan etched a veteran's memorial near the park and booked the site last year. Over the phone and by email, we discussed gear, food and drink, but never really talked about our expectations for the weekend.
After a long four hour drive, we unloaded the gear, set up camp and soon discovered that camping with a one-year-old isn't like camping with a 3 month old. Sure, there were a few sweet moments, like when Ingrid and I watched four caterpillars shuffle around the picnic table. But, as we avoided the windy, chilly weather in our tent and Ingrid became increasingly tired and fussy, it became clear that the weekend would be tolerable at best.
After four hours at the campsite, we decided to pack it up and head on home, tail between our legs. It was a bummer - we were defeated.
Maybe if the weather was better, it would have been fine. We both felt like idiots - but lesson learned, camping with a one-year-old isn't fun for anyone.
On the ride home, we decided to numb our pain with doughnuts and coffee. After missing the exit for Dunkin' Donuts and nearly missing one of the last Kwik Trip exits, Dan sighed "It's just that kind of day." And thankfully, we took it in stride. No one was laughing, but no one was placing blame or bitching (ok, we bitched for about three minutes).
On Saturday, I woke up to Dan questioning, "Did yesterday even happen?"
It did and I was over talking about it before the subject even cam up. So I ran, grabbed a kiddie pool at Target and packed a bag for a little picnic and walk around Doctor's Park.
Ingrid was in love. She stood on the beach and yelled at the waves. She couldn't believe what she was seeing and didn't mind that the water was a little on the cold side.
However ideal our camping situation could have been, it didn't make sense for Ingrid. Any lingering doubts were washed away as she cautiously wobbled around the beach, mouth open in complete joy.
She sat here for about two minutes (equal to 30 minutes in adult minutes) gazing out at the waves.
We arrived home to a pseudo-warm kiddie pool and a cooler of mixers. Camping smamping, we had swimsuits, access to ice, iPod speakers and a happy Ingrid.
I completely understand that camping with a one-year-old sounds insane and dumb. A year ago, it made sense, to us both, to camp with Ingrid. We love the outdoors and wanted to share this experience. Dan wanted to start a family tradition and visit the memorial he created. A year ago, we had no idea what life with a one-year old would look like, feel like or be like. She's in a constant state of transition and exploration. Camping made sense when she was little and unaware. Now, she's aware enough to enjoy crawling caterpillars but not aware enough to understand that we're sleeping together in a tent. Or even to comprehend what a tent is.
I'm thankful we had two days to turn the weekend around and the time to create new traditions that work with our family, right now. I know there will be plenty of weekends to camp, (and years when Ingrid will think camping is the lamest thing ever) and there will be plenty of visits to the beach - but there's only one first visit to the beach. And that visit was met with screams of delight and wonder, and it was pretty great.